“Quality of life” – 24 Hours in A&E is back
The RTS award-winning documentary series is back following patients treated in the same 24-hour period at St George’s Hospital in south-west London – one of the most advanced and busiest A&E departments in the world. A place where stories of life, love and loss unfold every day.
78-year-old Barrie is rushed to St George’s with breathing difficulties. His wife Irene is with him. She reveals Barrie has been in A&E a few times in recent months with chest problems and is also suffering from dementia, “He couldn’t remember things,” says Irene. “He forgot my birthday, but I didn’t want to broach the subject.”
While doctors carry out further tests, Irene talks about how as newly weds they desperately wanted children together, but found they couldn’t. They adopted two children, but a few years later Irene started feeling tired and went to the doctors. It turned out she was pregnant and gave birth to a son on Barrie’s 44th birthday.
Irene was offended when people said ‘you must be pleased to have one of your own’. “We never thought of our two adopted children as not our own,” she says.
In resus, Barrie’s condition worsens. Tests reveal he has fluid on his lungs and faces serious medical treatment meaning Irene has to come to terms with a difficult conversation.
75-year-old David is also in A&E having fallen down a flight of stairs. He was staying with his wife Jane at her sister’s house when he woke in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, but “mistook the top of the stairs for the bathroom door.” Jane is worried about his injuries, but admits “It was funny…he didn’t have anything on!”
David, a former teacher, occasionally has restless nights where he dreams of fighting. Wife Jane explains, “We will be cuddled up fast to sleep…and he will kick me really hard. So I’d wake up and kick him back and we’ll end up kicking each other.”
As doctors carry out further tests, David explains how as a young boy he was sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle, a situation that David says led him “to grow up believing I was bad…I became quite hard…I look back now with regret that I didn’t shown my aunt and uncle more affection. They would do anything for me.” Years later David’s uncle suffered from dementia and came to live with them giving David the opportunity to repay their kindness. “I remember with gratitude that I could nurse him in his final years,” he says.
Meanwhile 82-year-old Bob has come into majors after a DIY accident at home. His wife, daughter in law and grandson are with him. Due to previous accidents, Bob has been banned from using ladders and grandson Robbie suggests they might have to cut off the electricity to the shed to stop him using power tools too.